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This site is an archive of our Well Written Blog posts until April 2020. For the most up-to-date content visit NWIJournal.com.

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Broaden Your Horizons through Positive Emotional Expression

Posted By Dr. Duke Biber, Ph.D., Wednesday, March 18, 2020

Photo by Priscilla Du Preez on Unsplash

As I teach and mentor students in the field of health and wellness, I repeatedly get asked, “Which component of wellness is the most important for me to devote my time, energy, and resources?” As each of NWI’s Six Dimensions of Wellness promote resilience and thriving, it is important to respond to my students with multicultural competency, and in a way that can improve their personal wellness.

To answer this question, I continually find myself reverting back to Dr. Fredrickson’s broaden-and-build theory on positive emotions. This theory suggests that positive emotions, such as love, joy, contentment, and gratitude, broaden our thinking during a situation, allowing us to respond with a wide variety of positive behaviors. 

Negative emotions, on the other hand, tend to narrow our range of potential behavioral responses. When we experience fear, we tend to respond by fleeing or attempted escape, which historically served as a biological method of self-preservation when running from a threat. However, such a response is no longer needed across most workplace, school, or hospital environments today. 

The effect of positive and negative emotions can be understood through the following scenario:

University undergraduate student Jeena Varghese is presenting a research poster at a conference for the first time. As she prepares to share her research with others, Jeena experiences fear that she may embarrass herself or fail to answer a question correctly, leading her to skip the conference altogether. 

Alternatively, Jeena could approach the presentation with the hope to learn from other wellness professionals, optimism about her presentation skills, and gratitude for the opportunity to present. Such positive emotions may result in her attending and succeeding at the conference, networking with other professionals, and even engaging in other scholarly activities that she may not have considered, previously. Her positive emotions broadened her perspective of the situation, allowing her to respond with a wide variety of behavioral responses.

I urge individuals to focus on emotional wellness through awareness techniques such as mindfulness activities, self-compassion training, and cognitive reframing. Any individual can benefit from learning positive emotional expression, as the following four emotions are relevant across all cultures:

1. Joy
2. Interest
3. Contentment
4. Love

Each of these four emotions can be understood and expressed regardless of socio-economic status, education level, race, age, religion, sexual orientation, or ethnicity. 

Based on broaden-and-build research, and the above example, I urge students to become aware of their emotions and practice positive reframing when necessary. By learning to express positive emotions, individuals build physical, intellectual, and social resources, promoting resilience and coping when life becomes difficult.

While all of NWI’s Six Dimensions of Wellness are important, I recommend a preliminary focus on positive emotional expression, as it positively impacts all of the other areas of wellness. 

Dr. Duke Biber teaches and conducts research at the Department of Sport Management, Wellness, and Physical Education at the University of West Georgia. Dr. Biber has his Doctoral degree in exercise psychology from Georgia State University and Master’s degree in sport psychology from Georgia Southern University. He has experience teaching sport and exercise psychology, mental and emotional wellness, health behavior change, weight training, and a variety of fitness courses. His research interests include psychological determinants of exercise as well as identity development, self-compassion, mindfulness, and spirituality. 

Tags:  Emotional Expression  Emotional intelligence  Emotional Wellness  Positivity 

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I Skipped My Step Aerobics Class Today

Posted By Lisa Medley, Friday, February 8, 2019
Updated: Tuesday, May 7, 2019

Instead of going to class, I went back to bed.

I didn't feel like it.

I wasn't beating up on myself for not going.
I wasn't judging myself for being "lazy."
I wasn't shoulding on myself. 

I usually go to a step aerobics class (yes, it still exists!) on Tuesday mornings. I love it! I get to sweat from every pore of my body, my brain gets to work out too as it is keeping up with the choreography of steps, and I don't have to create anything; I just show up and do what the teacher tells me to do.

This morning however, I checked in with my body and my energy and wasn't feeling it. This kind of class takes at least 75% energy in the tank and I didn't have it. I had worked on a deadline driven project over the weekend — not my norm, and it happens sometimes — with a headache that comes on from time to time (ladies, you know what I mean), and was needing to slap on a quasi-sunny "good morning!" to my son as I shuffle around getting him off to the bus stop in 17 degree weather.

Instead of going to class, I went back to bed. I asked my body what it FELT like doing and that was the reply. I have been practicing being kind to my body long enough that I can trust that when I listen to its needs and respond, I feel better. I don't have to "figure it out" or think my way though feeling better; I FEEL my way to feeling better. 

My body tells me the truth of my internal experience. Without should’s, shame, or pressure to meet impossible expectations from the outside world.

Your body does too. Imagine the freedom of tuning into your internal state and having your inner voice be enough. Embodying the truth that YOU ARE ENOUGH.

How are you FEELING in this very moment? What does your body need to feel good, even better? Even an incremental step, an eye dropper amount of action, a micro movement

Without the need to please anybody except yourself.
Without the guilt of so-called "selfish."
Without the external have to's.

With full on permission.
For your body.
For your life.
For your best self.

Let me know how it goes!

Liberate Your Light,
Lisa Medley

Lisa MedleyLisa Medley, MA serves as a Wellbeing and Body Intelligence Expert. She supports her clients to cultivate positive relationships with their body for sustainable inside-out wellbeing. Lisa believes in reintegrating the body and its wisdom to support the evolution of our divine human potential. Learn more at SoulisticArts.com. Check out her new Instagram page as well: @soulisticarts.

Tags:  boundaries  emotional agility  emotional intelligence  emotional wellness  Lisa Medley  resilience  spiritual wellness 

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Wellness in 10: 10 ways to improve your EQ

Posted By NWI, Monday, August 1, 2016

A lot has been made of the Intelligence Quotient. Your IQ is one of many ways that we have our smarts tested through our years in school. But when was the last time you had your EQ tested? 


Your EQ (Emotional Quotient or Emotional Intelligence) is defined as your ability to recognize, understand, and use your own emotions to reduce stress, empathize with others, reduce conflict, and build relationships.


With a so much of our focus on IQ, there should be no surprise that our EQ is often left behind. We simply don’t put as much emphasis on it. However, as we know, emotional wellness is a big part of our overall wellbeing. 


For those of us who could stand to do some development of our emotional wellness, here are 10 ways to improve your EQ. 



1.     Observe


You can’t make a map until you know where you’re starting.  Take some time, meaning days or weeks, not minutes or hours, to assess where you’re at emotionally. This may mean “checking in” with yourself a couple times a day to see how you’re feeling. Write it down, if you want.  After this process, you should have a good idea what you feel generally, whether there are certain actions or behaviors that push you to anger or sadness, and things that relieve your hurt or stress.



2.     Recognize where your emotions live


It’s unfortunate that we don’t have a sign in our mind that lights up with “You’re happy” or “You’re angry” so that we have a clear understanding of what we’re feeling when we’re feeling it. Emotions can manifest themselves in strange ways, and we’ve all got to learn to interpret them. That knot that grows in your belly as you get closer to work during your commute? That’s probably anxiety.  That little twinge you get behind your eyes when you hear your kids or nieces or nephews playing? That might be happiness and love. Emotions arise in all of our bodies differently, so take some time to pay attention to what you’re body is telling you.



3.     Assess, don’t judge


In terms of where you’re starting on your path to better emotional intelligence – “it is what it is.” Don’t harangue yourself because you think you should be “better” than you are. Just accept the fact that this is where your path starts, and plan your strategy toward a higher EQ from there.



4.     Take responsibility for your actions


This part can be hard for some people. When caught in bad behavior, we can get caught in a cycle of excuses like “Yeah, but he did XYZ,” or “Yeah, but she said XYZ.” Recognize that you can’t control how others behave, but you’re responsible for the things you say and do. There may be an apology in order for past behavior, and, regardless of how high your EQ is to start with, you’ll probably want to put a plan in place for how to do better next time.



5.     Respond, don’t react


This is the plan for “next time.” Because we observed actions or behaviors that push us toward anger or sadness, we can anticipate how we will react, and because we can anticipate the reaction, we can “short circuit” the process and cut the reaction off before it starts. Plan ahead for how you think you should respond in the situations that set you off, and do your best to put your plan in place when the situation arises.



6.     Practice positivity


Some of us get hung up on dwelling on the negatives in our lives. The things happening at work or at home may feel like they’re piling up, but odds are there are a lot of things that are going right for you, too. Take a little time to think about all the good you have going on, and you’ll feel your negative emotions drowned out, or at least diminished, by some of your newfound positivity.



7.     Give yourself some options


A lot of anxiety and fear can come from the unknown. Do yourself a favor and alleviate that stress by thinking through the situations that are weighing on you, and playing out all the possible outcomes in your mind. Even if you’re not 100% accurate in your assessments, you’ll still have a better idea of what may happen, and how you can respond so you land on your feet. Suddenly the “unknown” is no longer unknown, and some of that anxiety will dissipate.  If you find this process difficult, it may help to recruit a friend to help walk through all the possible outcomes.



8.     Practice Empathy


Empathy is the ability to understand and share in the feelings of others. It can be tough because it requires that we step outside ourselves, even momentarily, to gain the perspective of another person.  That might be uncomfortable, or even undesirable, at times, especially in the case where you’re interacting with someone you find difficult to relate to, but in doing so, you’ll go a long way to understanding their behavior.



9.     Cut them some slack


Try to go a step beyond simply recognizing the actions of others through their emotional lens.  The truly emotionally intelligent understand that everyone is the hero in their own story, just trying to do what they think is right.  By taking on that attitude, it’ll be easier to grant other people some leeway when they behave in a way that seems incorrect to you, and it’ll be easier for you to discuss the situation as a problem with their behavior, not with the person him or her self.



10.  Practice being emotionally honest


This is a major milestone for the emotionally intelligent. Being emotionally honest with other people can feel like a huge risk because you inherently have to open yourself up to them, but it’s in this vulnerable space that true progress can be made, and until you’re emotionally honest, there will be impediments to creating the types of strong relationships that will help you improve your work and home life.




We hope these 10 tips will help you improve your emotional intelligence. We hope you’ll put them to use and have a very happy August!

Tags:  Emotional intelligence  Emotional wellness  EQ  Wellness In 10 

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